Shakatak - Da Makani Laserdisc Closeup

Do you luxuriate in the wind? Da Makani is the second Shakatak Laserdisc in my collection, and they only released 4 albums and 3 singles on Laserdisc and CDV respectively, out of over 50+ albums and counting! I’ve talked about another disc of theirs elsewhere, Twilight Sensation, which is excellent, make sure you get it if you can. Da Makani though, to me, is something very special and just a little bit different to your typical band Laserdisc.

The unstoppable, awesome and quite frankly legendary band Shakatak were asked by Kenwood (the electronics brand famous for many a pair of 6×9 holes cut in to the back of many a Ford Escort XR3i parcel shelf back in the day) to produced the official album and video for the 1988 Kenwood Cup International Yacht Race. Said race was run annually in Hawaii until just a few years ago. The band came up with the album Da Makani and an accompanying Laserdisc of the same name.

What you get with this disc isn’t your typical fare of a concert or a collection of music videos. Da Makani runs for 45 minutes across 1 side of a Laserdisc and comprises the audio of the Da Makani album along with some wonderfully shot scenery of Hawaii. If that sounds dull to you then think again, and here’s why.

“Even if it is made up of gold, the sailing boat can go nowhere without the humble wind!” – Mehmet Murat ildan 

Da Makani is absolutely exquisitely produced. For starters the audio, which is really what you are here for, is laid down absolutely perfectly. I waited until everyone was out of the house, slipped on this disc and cranked the volume up on my pokey little setup and it absolutely sang it’s heart out. Keys sounds note perfect, bass guitars slip and slide up and down the scales with eloquent rumbles and drums sound crisp and ‘thuddy’ in equal measures throughout. Note that this particular disc was released in 1990 and features both analogue and digital audio. The 1988 first pressing is analogue only as far as I am aware.

Shakatak - Da Makani Laserdisc Cover
Shakatak – Da Makani Laserdisc Cover (Source: The Coterie)

Visually, Da Makani excels yet again. I’ll admit when I first slipped on the disc and the opening sequence began, I thought my DVDO processor was having HDMI handshake issues. It was in fact a swiftly edited sequence with a strobe effect, so be warned if you are averse to flashing images as they do appear at the start of the disc.

Da Makani opens with the ‘Da Makani Suite’ on Chapter 1 which comprises 4 parts a) From Sun To Sea, b) Wind Jammin’, c) From Sea To Sun and d) Cliffhanger. It sets the tone perfectly. The film opens aboard a helicopter looking down on the sea and mountains over Hawaii before moving to a hot afternoon by the sea and the harbour, watching the world go by, to sunset by the beach and to a close. The accompanying music from the album is just sublime. Silky, aquatic synth pads and watery piano tinkles that give the mind the impression of the big blue. Gorgeous, tropical, subtle synth swells that just put you right in the mood.

‘Bermuda Rig’ on Chapter 6 is another nice track. Just the sound of an acoustic guitar and waves rolling on to the shore. You can sit back, listen and view and think ‘this is the life’. It’s good stuff, and again the audio is king here.

Shakatak - Da Makani Laserdisc Inserts
Shakatak – Da Makani Laserdisc Inserts (Source: The Coterie)

A few of the images take a more artsy approach. You can really tell this is a product of 1988! Overhead shots of expertly arranged sun loungers by a pool, a closeup of a pool step ladder and the gentle lapping of breezy pool water. One shot in particular of a bottle of Perrier next to a swimming pool not only looks tremendously 80’s, but is also pin sharp in detail. Some moments reminded me of the beautiful (and now very expensive) 7″ artwork on the brilliant 1985 single ‘Faces’ by Italian pop starlet Clio. The same can be said for the whole of this disc, picture quality is absolutely bang on. It looks excellent.

Clio - Faces 7
Clio – Faces 7″ Artwork

Da Makani is one all-round superbly produced disc. I can only imagine what an R7G, HLD-X9 or X0 could do with it.

A couple of the chapters do appear to show some yacht racing footage, though it is unclear if this is from the actual 1988 race. I would imagine if the disc was a promotional tool, and it was released in November of 1988, then it was probably just a marketing product. The race footage could have been from the 1987 race prior? I’m sure that any sailing enthusiasts watching the disc would know, and they would have to, because no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t find a single thing about the 1988 Kenwood Cup on the Internet.

The disc closes with my favourite track on the whole album, ‘Endurance’, which is just an absolutely whopper instrumental track that a) sounds totally 80’s and b) has some incredible guitar playing on it. The video almost succeeds the audio with some great shots of yachts and surfing followed by an extreme close up of some waves gently kissing the sandy shore in some of the most detailed footage I’ve ever seen on a Laserdisc (for my setup). The video closes with a beautiful sunset as it’s parting shot while reminding me of an old Taboo/Mirage advert from the telly years ago.

Make no mistake, Da Makani, in my opinion, is one of the best sounding and best looking Laserdiscs I have ever seen. Even if you don’t dig the Shakatak sound I would still recommend it. This is not a Laserdisc. This is an experience. Turn it up and get it on!

FUN FACT OF THE DAY: Da Makani means The Wind in Hawaiian. (source: Ulukau Hawaiian Dictionary)

BONUS FEATURE! Q&A with Roger Odell from Shakatak about the Da Makani Project!

A world exclusive of sorts?!

While I was waiting for this disc to arrive in a shipment from Japan I sent an email to the band in the hopes of getting a bit more information about the interesting and unusual Da Makani project. I was delighted to get a response from none other than Shakatak band member Roger Odell!

Below are the questions I sent to the band which Roger very kindly answered for me. I cannot find anything about Da Makani other that the Japanese sleeve notes that come packed in with the Laserdisc. It’s very much short and sweet, but it’s also great to have just a bit more information on such a great album! In a way you could say this is a bit of a world exclusive? Enjoy!

Q1. How did the project with Kenwood come around for the 1988 International Yacht Race?

Our contact at Polygram Japan was a yachting man and he knew the Kenwood Race guys. He asked us to compose and record the music.

Q2. The style of Da Makani seems to be quite different to a lot your prior material. Was this intentional? Were you seeking a new sound or was it about trying to fulfill a project brief?

We were thinking of music that would accompany a film rather than music just for listening.

Q3. Did you do much promotional work for Da Makani? When I try to research the 1988 Kenwood Cup I can find literally zero information about either the event or your involvement!

No, we didn’t exploit the music as we regarded it as a “side project” rather than typical Shakatak.

Q4. Was all of the band involved with Da Makani? How did Keith Winter become involved with the album?

We were all involved in the project and as Keith was an original member and still playing with us then he was involved. Due to ill health he had to leave later.

Q5. Personally, I think the track ‘Endurance’ is my favourite on the album. One thing bugs me though, it fades out just as the track is in full flow! This is one of those tracks that deserves the full 11 minute+ stadium experience in my humble opinion! Does a full, uncut version of Endurance exist?

No. That is the only version. It’s a great track and Keith sounds amazing!

Q6. Do you play any of the tracks from Da Makani live today? Or did you play any of the tracks live after promoting the album/project?

We don’t play any these days but we did play Windjammin’ live just after the album came out.

Q7. Away from Da Makani, another track that stands out to me on your All Around The World album is the demo version of Invitations. You can really see the foundations of the track right there. However I think it would also work brilliantly as a remix of it’s own. Did you ever record the track that way in full, with Jill on vocals?

Apart from live versions and there was a 12” single remix released in the 80’s, there is only the album version.

Q8. I always wondered where I had heard Night Birds before and with a bit of research I see you had a deal with Casio to get the song on to their keyboards and pianos as a demo track! How did the whole thing come about?

Somebody at Casio asked us if they could do a version for their keyboard. Obviously Nightbirds is a popular tune for aspiring keyboard players.

Q9. What are Shakatak up to today? With 2020 being pretty much a write off I see you have a fairly packed gig list for 2021. Are you looking forward to getting back out on the road again?

We are doing a few lockdown sessions for Facebook posting and just waiting for 2021 when we hope to back on the road.

Q10. What are your plans for the future? Any new material?

As we haven’t promoted our 40th Anniversary in 2020 we hope to be able to do that in 2021. We will do another album in 2022.

Note: One of my favourite songs from the Twilight Sensation Laserdisc, 'Bitch To The Boys' is being redone!